Schools taking precaution for Coronavirus

Friday, March 13, 2020

In light of Coronavirus (COVID-19), different facilities have given public notice about precautions and steps that are being taken to ensure the health and well-being of the community.

President of Arkansas Northeastern College Dr. James Shemwell released a statement that gave a list of preparations that are being made to keep the school’s students and faculty safe. This list included the sanitization of every room, additional cans of disinfectant and hand sanitizers being left out for use, and monitoring the spread of the virus to plan the change of conducting live classes online.

The statement also encouraged everyone to be responsible for their own health by washing their hands and avoiding close contact with others that may be sick.

On Thursday, Blytheville School District Superintendent Bobby Ashley said,“We are staying up on all of the information on the Coronavirus and we will follow all the State and Department of Health’s recommendations. We are sanitizing all of the buildings as much as we can in the afternoons and we plan to have one big sanitization cleaning over the weekend. At present time we don’t have any changes or closings planned but that can change in 10 to 15 minutes. We are hoping and praying for the best but we are staying on top of it.”

On Friday, Ashley said, “I just finished the webinar with the Director of Department of Education and The Health Department. Their recommendation is that we keep schools open. From that recommendation Blytheville Schools will remain open until further notice.”

Gosnell Superintendent Bonard Mace said they are working diligently to do what they can including disinfecting the busses, extra cleaning inside the buildings, wiping down all of the desks and doing their best to keep everything as sanitized as possible.

He said all of the area superintendents have been talking and may call a meeting to compare plans.

“Plans can change by the hour,” Mace said. “The Coronavirus is fast spreading. We hope for the best but we are preparing for the worst.”

Thursday evening, Mace said, “In light of the national and state situation in reference to COVID -19 the Gosnell School District is postponing Friday’s junior high dance and all other extra curricular activities this week. We will continue to monitor the situation and make plans accordingly to ensure that the safety and well being of our students and our community are being taken care of.”

On Friday, Mace said, ““At this time, the Gosnell School District will have regular session classes Monday. We will continue to monitor this COVID-19 crisis and communicate good/safe decisions. Wish for all - a peaceful/restful weekend.”

Also Thursday evening, Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook said effective immediately, there will be no jail visitation until further notice.

Manila School District Superintendent Jason Evers shared how his district is dealing with the growing concerns.

“We are taking guidance from Governor Hutchinson, the secretary of health and the secretary of education,” Evers said. “They are viewing school closings geographically at this time and are recommending closures by county. So far schools in four counties have closed; Saline, Jefferson, Pulaski, and Grant. Mississippi County is not an area they have recommended closures for. These officials are in close contact with schools and are helping us make good judgment calls. We will continue school at Manila Schools as usual at this time. This could change at any time. If it does, we will inform parents promptly and accordingly.”

KIPP Delta provided famlies with an update on its website.

“As we continue to monitor the latest news regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) we wanted to send additional information home regarding KIPP Delta’s plans in the event of a school closure,” the post reads.

“KIPP Delta is prepared to follow the guidance of our local, state, and federal government when it comes to making the decision to close schools. We understand school closures can be disruptive and costly for families, but the safety of our students, staff, and community will always be our top priority. If any of our schools close as a result of COVID-19, we will utilize Alternative Method of Instruction (AMI) days in order to continue your child’s education through the closure. AMI allows us to offer students work to complete when school is closed in order to count them as days of student attendance that do not have to be made up at the end of the year. This work is designed to keep students’ brains engaged and continue practicing skills they have learned throughout the school year in their classes.”

Manila Nursing Center activity director Andrea Stone announced they had received a notice from the Governor of Arkansas that no groups of volunteers should be allowed in the nursing homes due to the threat of the Coronavirus.

This includes the schools, churches and other volunteer groups.

"The health of our residents is top priority," she said.

A statement released by the Arkansas State Capitol reads:

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic announcement yesterday, the measure taken in Washington, D.C. today along with the very recent report from Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Secretary of State John Thurston is ordering the closure of the Arkansas State Capitol to the public, effective Friday, March 13, 2020. Only authorized personnel will be permitted to enter the building for work purposes. Updates to the building's status will be made available as we continue to monitor the situation.”